MISSION AND HISTORY
"The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is dedicated to the whole of the German people and its function is to widen and deepen knowledge of German history. For this purpose it has a duty to research, collect, preserve and make accessible to the public historical evidence relating to the culture, art and literature of the German-speaking world."
(excerpt from the museum's statutes)
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum has existed since 1852. Its founder was the Franconian baron, Hans von und zu Aufsess, whose goal was to assemble a "well-ordered compendium of all available source material for German history, literature and art". After the unsuccessful attempt at political unification of the German state in 1848, the museum was conceived as a means of documenting the fundamental cultural unity of the "Germanic" - i.e., German-speaking - world. When the German Empire was established in 1871, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum officially became the National Museum of German Art and Culture.
COMMITMENT TO RESEARCH
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is fundamentally a research institution. Of foremost importance is the scholarly study of the museum's collections and evaluation of their significance for the history of German art and culture. The results of this research is made accessible to both specialists and the general public through catalogues, exhibitions and exhibition-related publications, as well as through essays in specialized professional journals.
With current overall holdings of ca 1.2 million objects, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum is Germany's largest museum of cultural history. The permanent exhibitions, arranged in 17 sections, span the spectrum from prehistoric times to contemporary art and culture. A total of ca 20,000 display objects invite visitors to embark on a journey through time from Paleolithic hand-axes and the Bronze Age golden cone from Ezelsdorf-Buch to medieval sculptures by Veit Stoss and Tilman Riemenschneider, the Behaim Globe, the emperor portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt's self-portrait and all the way down to Joseph Beuys' "Felt Suit" of 1971. Moreover, selected aspects of the art and cultural history of the German-speaking world are highlighted in periodic special exhibitions.
The museum's architectural core is a late medieval monastery, of which cloister, church and monastic apartments survive. Its external appearance is dominated by buildings designed by the architect Sep Ruf during the 1950s and 1960s and the recently added Museum Forum (1993) with Dani Karavan's "Way of Human Rights".
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is more than just a museum. In addition to the individual collection departments, the museum houses an Historical Archive, a Fine Arts Archives, a Cabinet of Coins and Medals and a Collection of Prints and Drawings. The specialized Research Library, with more than 500,000 volumes on European art and cultural history, is accessible to the general public. The 'Gewerbemuseum im GNM ( Museum of Applied Arts)' is curated by the museum as an autonomous collection.
With its 15 specialized workshops, the Institute for Art Technology and Conservation is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the Federal Republic. Not only is the Institute responsible for the conservatorial care of the museum's collections; it also offers preliminary internships within the framework of the applied sciences university (FH) degree program in conservation.
The Museum Press of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the oldest museum press in Europe, publishes not only catalogues of exhibitions but also the museum's annual and monthly bulletins (Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums / Monatsanzeiger). Since 1996, the press has maintained a stand of its own at the annual book fair in Frankfurt.
The two divisions of the museum's Art Education Center (KPZ) offer visitors a wide range of educational programs geared, respectively, to school classes and young people and to adult groups and families.
The Germanisches Nationalmuseum also maintains two branch museums:
The architectural history of Nuremberg's imperial castle and its historical importance as a center of the "Holy Roman Empire" from the 12th to the 16th century is brought to life in a new exhibition in the so-called "kemenata" of the Kaiserburg. Other themes of the exhibition include the castle's use as an observatory, its role in military history and the technological development of weapons and armor during the Middle Ages and the early modern era.
This charming little manor house just north of the city limits illustrates the summer lifestyle of Nuremberg's patricians during the 16th-19th century. With its defensive architecture, bridge, bathhouse, outbuildings and Baroque gardens, Schloss Neunhof constitutes a picturesque ensemble.
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